Booking Process Analysis: Do you Know Where Your Bookings Are?

By Mike Kistner President, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of the Board, Pegasus Solutions | March 06, 2011

I recently presented the "Q&A Worth Distributing" session at HEDNA's Winter Conference with John Burns, president of Hospitality Technology Consulting. In a single discussion about distribution, we not only agreed that the voice reservations channel was not dead, but also laughed that there may be an opportunity to sell rooms for mobile through iTunes since the payment mechanism already exists.

Simultaneously, we're seeing reports of consumers fleeing the online booking process for the security of their travel agent, while monthly data from Pegasus shows revenue through the leisure channel setting records from growth over 2009.

In this schizophrenic booking environment, it's more important than ever to analyze your booking process to understand where your reservations are coming from, and where opportunities to generate more business exist.

Give Voice a Voice

In 2009, various industry reports stated voice reservations were the source of anywhere from 22% to 33% of business for major hotel brands. Additionally, a June 2010 PhoCusWright report cited the "need for personal service" as the number one reason for travelers to book leisure travel offline. While emerging channels like mobile often capture the headlines and our imagination, we can't forget those that built our industry and remain the go-to for a sizable buying audience.

Bookings coming through the voice channel should account for the geographic markets targeted and served by a hotel, and should place a premium on customer service to put the discerning voice caller at ease. Content for voice, such as correct phone numbers, should be consistent and available 24-7 with the capability to manage overflow. Additionally, the voice channel, which allows use of traditional sales tactics through personal connection, can be integrated with the hotel site through use of "Push to Talk" icons to allow site browsers wanting that "personal service" to speak with a live reservation agent.

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Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.